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Signs and Symptoms

If you think someone has had a stroke, immediately call 9-1-1 for emergency help. The acronym FAST is an easy way to remember signs of stroke and what to do. FAST stands for

Ask the person to smile. Check to see if one side of the face droops.

Ask the person to raise both arms. See if one arm drifts downward.

Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Check to see if words are slurred and if the sentence is repeated correctly.

If a person shows any of these symptoms, time is essential. It is important to get them to the hospital as quickly as possible. Call 9-1-1, Act FAST.

Beyond F.A.S.T --other symptoms you should know
  • Sudden weakness, paralysis or numbness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden onset of double vision, dimness or loss of vision
  • Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding language
  • Sudden severe headache without apparent cause
  • Unexplained dizziness, unsteadiness or loss of balance, especially in combination with other stroke symptoms

While you are waiting for emergency personnel to arrive try to do the following
  • Record the time the first symptoms began. Timing is critical, because it determines which medications can be given.
  • Record how the first symptoms began.
  • Do not eat or drink anything. One of the problems associated with stroke is difficulty swallowing, so eating or drinking could be dangerous.
  • Collect any medications being taken and bring the bottles. If the bottles are not available, write the medications down along with the dosages. This is valuable information for the paramedics and emergency department staff.
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